Sunday, November 30, 2008

Quoth The Raven...Nevermore

"And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming, And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor; And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted — nevermore!"

-Edgar Allen Poe

My SSS contribution this week: The Raven.

In Western European culture, we know the Raven to be a symbol of loss, death and war. However, in other cultures, it is venerated as a solar and oracular symbol. In Greek mythology, he is the messenger bird of Apollo and is also linked to the Roman Cult of Mithras. In some African cultures, the Raven is a guide. In the Innuit culture, they refer to a creator god as the Raven Father and killing a Raven would bring bad weather.*

In Edgar Allen Poe's poem of The Raven, wherein, an unknown narrator confronts,denies, grieves and laments of his loss of love, Lenore (quoth the Raven, "Nevermore").

It is a wonder that in nearly every western publication for the arts and crafters (Somerset Studio is one that comes to mind), there is a sizeable amount of published art submissions from the readers that contain images of Ravens. So many of us use the raven image without even giving a thought as to why we are using it (ok, an assumption on my part). But, do we know? Yep, it's a cool image to use, no doubt.

But, I think it is worthy of self examination as to why we use it. I'd like to think that the why we use it is more in alignment with the African cultural context of a "guide". Perhaps with an added, modern meaning of, "muse". Be it my muse, your muse, or someone else's muse.

Don't you think it's interesting, though? This prolific use of the raven image in contemporary collage work? Something our art history teachers haven't caught up to yet. Perhaps, in a few decades someone will connect the dots for us!

I welcome anyone else's insight into this topic. It will be interesting to hear what others have to say.

*"The Complete Encyclopedia of Signs and Symbols: Identification and Analysis of the Visual Vocabulary That Formulates Our Thoughts and Dictates Our Reactions to the World Around Us" by Mark O'Connell and Raje Airey, Herme House, 2006.


Lily Hydrangea said...

lovely shadows & interesting post. I've always liked Poe too.

Olga said...

Oh that's really cool: good thing the bird did not fly away :)

bridgette said...

my mom always raises her eyebrows at me in regards to my use of crows and ravens in my work. :) She says it means death and bad fortune.
I've always linked these birds (specifically crows) as "the outsider", "observer", such a part of our daily lives and yet on the fringe, never qute accepted ~ and I think I relate to that to myself.
There are several cultures that seem them as the mediators between us and the spiritual world. This is what speaks most to me. If there's a crow or raven in my work, i'm usually addressing a dream.

As to why we see so many images of ravens and crows now...I have no idea!? It must just be a trend. If you go to a lot of diy craft shows nowadays there are owls everywhere! Another bird with dual symbolism. Our culture/times may be more comfortable with embracing imagery that used to be taboo. Maybe we are reclaiming them?

The Summer Kitchen Interiors said...

Hello Paula - love Poe....and enjoyed your post about ravens (loved the shadow too, by the way!)
One year we had fake crows out and we found out quickly who had a fear of them and who didn't! Needless to say, we didn't bring them back the following year!

Paula Scott said...

Olga: I'm sorry I forgot to explain that this shadow is cast by a decoy bird (crow) that is in my planter! No, those clever birds fly away as soon as my camera is poised. Even if I'm behind a window and think I can't be seen.
Bridgette: I think we are re-claiming them. Particularly these symbols of duality. True, owls have been rapidly replacing the ravens by way of popular use in imagery. As for the hats...well. I'm STILL pondering the meaning of those! : )
For myself, I do welcome it as I love images that represent more than what they seem. Symbolic images are a great way to convey some very complex and abstract thoughts.

M.Kate said...

very interesting shot, its impossible to shoot their pictures here as they always on my roof :D

Twinkle Star Art said...

Very interesting shadow shot. I'm not a fan of the crow myself. Not a nice sound to listen to when waking up in the morning. Much prefer to listen to birds that can sing ;)

Sweet Repose said...

The raven a messinger of the Gods, good and evil. I once had a dream that a huge black raven led me, skipping down a long brick path, I felt free at that point, no longer under my Mother's thumb. I have respected them ever since...and have been free.

cool shot!

Lisa B. said...

Cool shot! I love all the little diamonds in the background!! Interesting info:)

Hey Harriet said...

That's a great shot & I enjoyed reading your post. Always an interesting visit! Have a great week ahead :)

Gina said...

Great SS, very effective with the softer shadows as a background :D

Leau said...

I like them because they are brash and sassy and always look like they are so disdainful of all of the other birds...and sometimes humans! I love to watch them soar and float on the wind like they own the sky. I like the way their feathers change from black to blue to green depending on the light. You can find all kinds of meaning in each of those reasons but mostly? I am just so delighted each year when they return! Great post, thank for sharing. Loved the image as well. smooches

Kelly said...

What an interesting and very lovely photo of the raven! I enjoyed reading the story very much!!!

Janine said...

Great shot!

Your image is full of foreboding yet innocence or naivete. Love the atmosphere it invokes!


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